When I climbed on to The Ghan for my famous journey to Alice Springs, I was delighted to find a superb private kitchen attached to my Prince of Wales coach. I thought it would be fun to do some cooking so, of course, I made the couscous, for the train drivers, but then I also had to cook for my chums. And I wanted to do something simple, so I decided to make some red butter. I then had to think of something, anything, to go with the red butter. So the main part of this recipe is, appropriately, for red butter.

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Ingredients

For the Red Butter

  • 2 red peppers, halved and seeded
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 capers
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 175 g (6 oz) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 × 175 g (6 oz) tuna steaks or fillets, well rinsed
  • 4–6 scallops, shells and crescent-like muscles removed, and cleaned
  • juice of 1 lime
  • large knob of butter
  • lemon wedges and fresh coriander leaves, to serve

Method

Put the peppers on to a baking sheet, skin-side uppermost, and roast them in a preheated oven, 190°C/375°F (gas mark 5), for 5-6 minutes. When the peppers have cooled a little, peel off any blackened or blistered skin, then chop them finely. Pop them in a pan with a little salt and some pepper and all of the other ingredients except the butter. Heat and bubble gently for 4 or 5 minutes, until the vinegar has disappeared. Transfer to your favourite food processor, blender or Magimix and whizz together for a few seconds.

Allow to cool completely, then beat into the softened butter until well amalgamated. Form into a roll, wrap in the paper from whence you took the butter or in some foil and chill until firm. You can store it in your refrigerator and cut into roundels as and when you need it. This red butter can be melted over grilled chicken or fish, over absolutely anything you like.

The dishes that I chose to go with the red butter were some firm scallops and little steaks or fillets of fresh tuna too:

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the tuna on both sides for about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook the fish gently for 8 minutes or so, turning once, until it flakes easily. Meanwhile, marinate the scallops in the lime juice for a few minutes and then sear on both sides in a little butter in a hot frying pan – about 3 minutes. Served with wedges of lemon, the red butter melted over the steaks, and strewn with coriander, this is a delightful dish.

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